Eight years ago – one week prior to launching eTextileCommunications.com (eTC) – I moved from Charlotte, N.C., to Greenville, S.C., into a then-114-year-old former textile plant, the Monaghan Mill, which had been converted into lofts.

Loose Ends sig

The mill operated for 101 years (1900-2001), and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Former textile behemoth JP Stevens owned and operated the plant 42 years, and 35,000 spindles were started up on Day One.

Working in that expansive, iconic building was the perfect setting to ply my trade in the textile industry.

And I loved every minute of it.

Now, starting this week, I’m ensconced in another Southern town built by the textile industry, where I’m still getting situated in my new office as I continue to disseminate industry news. That would be Belmont, N.C., the gateway to Gaston County if you’re coming from the now-mighty metropolis of Charlotte. The county seat, Gastonia, which once touted the highest ratio of textile spindles per capita in the U.S., is still nicknamed “Spindle City.”

For nearly a decade in Greenville, my fourth-floor office view inside the textile plant included a picturesque vista of downtown Greenville, a vintage smokestack, a water tower and fully stocked ponds. While working in Monaghan, I often wondered just how loud it was a few decades ago when an extra-large spinning room was running. And I occasionally pondered whether or not the CLANG-CLANG-CLANG from the first-floor weave room could be felt from the fourth floor.

And I oftentimes thought of the thousands of men and women who plied their trade within those walls to provide for their families and help make textiles one of the greatest industries this country has ever seen. Hard work, camaraderie and pride were common threads in mill villages throughout the South. I would’ve loved to have heard the many stories of the people who called Monaghan their home away from home, and the close-knit, family atmosphere of the mill village. Not to mention the national pride those employees who weren’t sent off to fight World War II felt as they made twill and gabardine fabrics for uniforms during wartime production.

If only those walls could talk.

From the open floor plans to the soaring ceilings to the exposed brick walls and pine beams to the stained concrete and wood floors to the arched windows, to the exposed duct work – it’s all impressive, and left an indelible mark on me and many others through the years.

While I was living in Monaghan, the Textile Heritage Park began to rise from an empty greenway across the street. The grounds pay homage to the rich history of the industry in Greenville, once known as the “Textile Center of the World.” Now, walking through the park is like taking a stroll through textile history. Created by the Greenville Textile Heritage Society, the park features a large archway that announces the starting point of the “Mill Walk.”

Featured along the path are stone markers etched with the history of the mills along the city’s “Textile Crescent,” the area within three miles of the city that, during much of the last century, boomed with 18 textile production facilities. Most of the 100-plus-year-old mills are still standing. Bricks around each of the markers are inscribed with names of residents who once lived or worked in those mills, purchased by family members or friends in their honor.

From Monaghan Mill to Textile Heritage Park to the mill section of Greenville, I’ll miss it all. The ambiance. The character. The history.

Now, it’s off to another adventure, or at least another setting to explore new adventures. Of course, I’ve spent many a day and night covering our grand industry in Gaston County, home to Parkdale, American & Efird, Champion Thread, etc., as well as the esteemed Textile Technology Center at Gaston College in Belmont, so it’s not new to me.

But I look forward to this new chapter, and helping to tell the next chapter of the U.S. textile industry’s history that you all are helping to write.

Textile_Heritage_Park_001.jpg

(2) comments

srbenj

Devin what an amazing story. The Southern textile heritage is like none other in the USA. Thanks for taking us thru this story for an intriguing history lesson, and hopefully you're getting the moving boxes emptied!

DSteele Staff
DSteele

Thank you!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.